Absent From Thee
By John Wilmot
Dear! from thine arms then let me fly,
That my fantastic mind may prove
The torments it deserves to try
That tears my fixed heart from my love.
When wearied with a world of woe
To thy safe bosom I retire,
Where love, and peace, and truth does flow,
May I contented there expire,
Lest, once more wandering from that heaven,
I fall on some base heart unblest,
Faithless to thee, false, unforgiven,
And lose my everlasting rest.
Summary of Absent From Thee
- Popularity of “Absent from thee”: The poem Absent from Thee was written by John Wilmot, a prolific English poet and writer who was also an Earl of Rochester. Interestingly, the poem appeared after the death of the poet, while during his lifetime, he only shared it with his family and friends. The poem highlights the shortcomings that led him to this tragic situation. The speaker’s realistic stance toward his relationship, the sarcastic tone of the poem, and the latent irony are significant reasons for the popularity of this poem.
- “Absent from thee” As a Representative of Love: The poem accounts for the speaker’s intense emotions toward his beloved. He admits that his separation from the lady has made him stand on the verge of anguish and pain. He explains how he feels uncomfortable and lost; even getting back to her seems troublesome. As the poem progresses, he establishes that it is not a violent separation. Instead, he purposefully went away to explore the taste of infidelity. However, after chasing unholy love and enduring the pains of separation, he intends to get back to the security of her bosoms. He wishes to die in her loyal and faithful company.
- Major Themes in “Absent from thee”: Infidelity, the power of love, and sufferings are the major themes of this poem. The speaker argues that his cheating is foolish and it brings torments and pain to him. Unfortunately, the ultimate domination of his wrongdoings takes him away from the blessings of his true love. Despite knowing that his choices and unbridled actions make him suffer, he chooses to taste them. After having the bitter taste of mental and spiritual losses, he wishes to get back to the point where he has just left. He longs to get back to the lady who has burned the candle of holy love for him.
Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “Absent From Thee”
literary devices are specific techniques that allow the writers to add deeper meanings that go beyond what is on the page. John Wilmot used various literary devices in this poem. The analysis is as follows.
- Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /e/ and /i/ in “When wearied with a world of woe” and the sound of /ai/ in “To thy safe bosom I retire”.
- Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /w/ in “When wearied with a world of woe.”
- Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /r/ in “And grief learned by his dark tribe” and the sound of /n/ and the sound of /r/ in “Lest, once more wandering from that heaven.”
- Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break; rather, it rolls over to the next line. For example;
“That my fantastic mind may prove
The torments it deserves to try
That tears my fixed heart from my love.”
- Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. John Wilmot used imagery in the poem such as “Dear! from thine arms then let me fly,” “When wearied with a world of woe” and “The straying fool ‘twill plainly kill.”
- Metaphor: The poem shows the use of metaphor as the abstract ideas of love, peace, and truth have been compared to a river that flows.
- Personification: The poem shows the use of personifications as mind and heart has been shown having life and emotions of their own.
- Rhetorical Question: Rhetorical question is a question that is not asked in order to receive an answer; it is just posed to make the point clear. John Wilmot has posed rhetorical questions in the second line of the poem to put emphasis on his point, such as, “Then ask me not when I return?”
- Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from the literal meanings. The expressions like “plainly kill” and “anguish still” symbolize the suffering of the speaker.
Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “Absent From Thee”
Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is an analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.
- End Rhyme: End rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. John Wilmot has used end rhyme in this poem, such as; “kill/still”, “return/mourn” and “woe/foe.”
- Quatrain: A quatrain is a four-lined stanza borrowed from Persian poetry. Here each stanza is quatrain.
- Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows ABAB, and this pattern continues till the end.
- Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are four stanzas in this poem, with each comprising four lines.
Quotes to be Used
The lines below are useful to use while talking about the pain one bears once separated from the love of his life.
“Absent from thee I languish still;
Then ask me not when I return?
The straying fool ‘twill plainly kill
To wish all day, all night to mourn.”